Looking at (the Presidential) Race

In the past week, a lot has been made of studies showing that racism still exists in this country and that it could impact the Presidential race.

Ahem.

Well, duh.

Of course, since the racism seems to run in both directions (one poll showed virtually all African Americans polled were planning to vote for Obama), a win for Obama may be as attributable to racism as a loss.

Ah, yes, I can see some of my liberal readers now:

Warning, my liberal friends, I’m about to go further with this thought. Stop now if you can’t take it.

I could pull quotes from some of the studies and get all technical about this topic but, for now, this is more about my personal feelings.

And why do the personal feelings of a white, conservative female count for anything in a discussion about racism? Because I have a son who is just as Black as Barack Obama.

Of course, this also means that my son is technically just as White* as he is Black. And, like Mr. Obama, while N’s skin may be dark, he is being raised in a White environment (Obama’s was not entirely, with influences from his Kenyan father and Indonesian step-father, but a lot of time was spent with just his mother when she was single, then with his maternal grandmother).

So, what is the point?

Obama has made it very clear that it is his intention to be the first Black President of the United States of America. From the very beginning, his campaign has made his race a factor. And they have decided that his race is African American. And if that is how he wants to define himself, that is just fine–maybe even logical. But, if you want to label yourself in a way that will give you stronger appeal to certain voters, you have to be prepared for the realities that come with those labels.

Yes, I know that people look at Barack Obama and see “Black.” I’m not trying to say he should try to pass himself off as White. But, over the course of this campaign, I have seen times that he has attempted to distance himself from his White mother and grandmother. And I can’t help but wonder if that has anything to do with the same thinking that causes many liberals to declare that all of President Bush’s Black appointees didn’t count because they weren’t “Black enough.”

Racism exists. That is the horrible reality of our world. I am all but incapable of watching programs on white supremacy groups because they pretty much give me anxiety attacks. The thought of someone looking at my son and seeing anything less than the wonderful person that he is is absolutely maddening. (Of course, the fact that organizations like The National Association of Black Social Workers would rather have it so that I could have never adopted my son because of my race is rather maddening, too).

Barack Obama is intelligent and charismatic. He has strong political views. These are things that aren’t affected by whether he is Black, White, Biracial, Green, or Polka-dotted. Race is not the right reason to vote against him**.

Race is also not the right reason to vote for him.

We need to just focus on the issues.

 

 

*If you feel like leaving a comment to educate me on why saying he is just as White as Black is wrong, don’t bother. I am not talking about racial perception. I understand that many biracial people are automatically categorized as Black by others, although my experience is that “Biracial” is becoming a very common way of classifying. N~ is not the only Biracial person in our family. Even the ones who live with both biological parents refer to themselves as “mixed,” and some of them appear to be White. My point has to do with honoring all parts of your heritage equally.

**If you would like to vote against Obama based on his extremely liberal views or weak resume, however, be my guest. Please.

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2 Comments

Filed under politics, transracial adoption

2 responses to “Looking at (the Presidential) Race

  1. I agree that racism (and sexism – let’s call a spade a spade) exists both ways, totally.

    But also, for the record, Obama himself almost *never* brings up race at all. I wish I could say the same about Palin who uses terms to remind us of her gender every time she speaks. And actually Obama was asked by the press how he feels about African Americans who disagree with Obama’s platform on the issues but feel inclined to “vote their roots” and he said people should vote for who will be a better president, not whose race they more closely identify with.

    Finally it may not be as racist as it appears outwardly. Polls are inaccurate so who really knows. But it’s fun to play with the numbers anyway. I saw some stats recently that showed that 94% of blacks favored Obama. I thought wow, that’s high. Race sure plays into it!! But when I looked up the 2004 stats for Kerry, it showed that Kerry earned 88% of the black vote. African-Americans traditionally vote very democratic, regardless of the candidate’s race. Maybe the 6% boost is 100% attributable to race but I doubt it. But let’s say it is. Then it cancels out the 6% frequently quoted population that will not vote for Obama due to race. Even-steven?

    Bottom line, though, I do believe racism and sexism is alive and well in America. And I do believe there is all kinds of prejudices going on on all sides. But a candidate never one on his merits alone so this is no surprise. Sadly, business as usual in politics.

  2. Actually, one of the polls that I was referring to (done in my swing state) showed 98% of Blacks voting for Obama and literally none voting for McCain, which is just phenomenal to me. But, yes, it may end up balancing out. Of course, you can’t just go straight percent since their are more White people than Black, and there are also White people, I’m sure, who will vote for Obama BECAUSE he is Black (just like there are people who will vote for McCain because Palin is a woman). So, yeah, I don’t think the polls really can reflect how race will end up influencing this election.

    I know that Obama isn’t bringing up his race constantly, but he doesn’t have to since a lot of his supporters do. And the media treats his minority status in an entirely different way than they do Palin’s. Could you imagine the outcry that would happen if they started putting his face on pictures of Fifty Cent’s body? But nothing is off limits with her (of course, that is a topic for another time).

    I guess I just feel like a lot of the implication behind these polls is that if you aren’t voting for Obama, you should feel guilty because you are obviously a bigot. And, whether it would be historic or not, his race is not a reason to vote for him. (Incidentally, I would love to see a Black President, if it was a candidate that I agreed with. I’d rather my son have that kind of role model than Fifty Cent and P. Diddy–gah!)

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